Arsenal in the dark on Gulf takeover bid report
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
English midfielder Jack Wilshere (L) nutmegs Bayern Munich's German defender Philipp Lahm (R) during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 football match between Arsenal and Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium in north London on February 19, 2013. AFP PhotoArsenal have had no contact over a potential takeover, sources told the Press Association on Sunday, amid reports of a looming record bid by a Gulf consortium.
Reports in British newspapers suggested that an investment group backed by funds from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were preparing a 1.5 billion ($2.25 billion, 1.75 billion euro) bid for the English Premier League club.
However, sources close to the Gunners' board told Britain's PA domestic news agency that there had been no approach -- informal or otherwise -- to the US owner Stan Kroenke, who has no intention of selling his controlling stake and remains "in it for the long term".
Kroenke pushed through his 430 million-plus takeover in April 2011, and now holds 66.83 percent of the club, giving him overall control.
Uzbek oil magnate Alisher Usmanov remains Arsenal's second largest shareholder with a 29.96 percent stake, but does not currently have a seat on the board.
The Sun newspaper said Arsenal shares were currently trading at around 17,000 and the proposed bid would be for 20,000 per share.
If Kroenke accepted the bid, the same offer would be made to Usmanov.
The bid would dwarf the 700 million that the Glazer family paid for Premier League leaders Manchester United.
It also underlines the Gulf interest in Premier League football, with champions Manchester City being owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahayan of the Abu Dhabi ruling family.
The Sunday Telegraph newspaper quoted a source as saying: "Arsenal is in a pivotal position at the moment. From our point of view it is the perfect moment to make this bid because at this moment you can still genuinely justify this extraordinary valuation on the club." The newspaper reports suggested that, if successful in a potential takeover, the consortium would help to drive the Gunners back to the top of European football, slash ticket prices and stop the sale of star players such as former captains Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas.
Arsenal issued no official response to the reports on their website or Twitter feed.
The Gunners visit north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, seeking to boost their hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four and qualifying for the Champions League.